The Spurs kicked off their participation in the Utah Summer League with a 16-point loss to the Jazz. Lonnie Walker went 3-16 from the floor in his pro debut, while Derrick White was the best Summer Spur on the court, finishing with 22 points.
The Spurs started the game poorly but quickly found a way to level things, with White leading the way early. Despite that mini-rally in the middle of the first quarter, they simply couldn’t sustain their effort to close the period, allowing the Jazz to take command of the game. Utah never surrendered it again.
In the second quarter the Jazz built on their lead, looking like the more aggressive and prepared team. The off ball movement that characterized the Spurs’ best moments in the first period disappeared and San Antonio’s defense simply wasn’t good enough to keep them in the game. At the half the Jazz led by 17 points.
With Walker struggling, the Spurs simply didn’t have enough firepower to mount a comeback. Second year players and Austin Spurs alumni Amida Brimah and Jaron Blossomgame brought some energy to the proceedings in the third quarter, but it was too late. The Jazz built on their lead past the 20-point barrier. The fourth quarter was garbage time.
It was not an auspicious debut for the Spurs. Not only did they lose by a big margin but their first round pick looked rather ordinary out there. There’s zero reason to be concerned about Lonnie Walker no matter how he plays in Utah or Las Vegas, but it would be nice to see the highest Spurs pick since Tim Duncan look a little more at home in a pro setting. There will be time for that later on this summer, hopefully.
- Derrick White looked great. As the leader of these Summer Spurs he’s forced to take on a huge role on offense, but he was able to deliver. White had 22 points and six assists, and he could have had a couple more dimes if his teammates had made shots. The best part of his performance is that a lot of what he did well will likely translate to the role he’ll play for the big club. His outside shot looks good, he can find the open man and he can play solid defense on guards that are not much quicker than him. It was an encouraging first game from White.
- Lonnie Walker just needs to find a rhythm and get used to a faster game. He was very passive at times, yet still managed to have a terrible shot selection. In the first half he just seemed determined to get a three-pointer, which resulted in him taking tough shots from outside instead of looking for better options. His handle was a little loose and he didn’t really showed off his athleticism. It’s early. I’m sure he’ll do better on his next game. He certainly seems to have the right attitude.
- Chimeze Metu’s potential was in full display. So was his lack of strength, which is clearly a problem right now. Metu started at power forward and seemed more comfortable at that position. Whenever he was the only big man on the floor, he got thrown around by bigger centers. That’s an issue, since that’s the position he’ll be asked to play in the NBA. Still, he seems to have good shot-blocking instincts and his outside shot looked good in the one three-pointer he attempted, despite not going in.
- Jaron Blossomgame played some power forward when the Summer Spurs went small, and he did it well. He’s a crafty screener who knows how to make himself available after setting a pick. He had good chemistry in the pick and roll with White. I don’t know how viable is playing him at that spot at the NBA level, since he’s just 6’7”, but it was nice to see him show some versatility.
- No one else really stood out. Drew Eubanks and Amida Brimah were productive, but didn’t look special. Raphiael Putney’s shot looks good, but he’s too skinny to play power forward. Jeff Ledbetter does a little bit of everything but nothing particularly well. London Perrantes sure does like to dribble a lot. I don’t expect those guys to be on NBA rosters next season, but they still have time to win a spot.
- The other 2018 first round pick on the floor had a solid debut. Grayson Allen struggled to score but showed off his vision and pitched in on the boards, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. He also didn’t trip anyone, so overall, good debut for the Jazz’s rookie.
The Summer Spurs will battle the Summer Hawks on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST. Hopefully they’ll play better than they did on Monday.